Tag Archives: Armée de l’Air

Before the P-40 was a thing, there was the rare and beautiful Hawk

Via the Fighter Collection

Most are familiar with the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk, the classic shark-mouthed single-seat fighter of early WWII that flew to eternal fame with the Flying Tigers in China. However, more than 1,100 Mohawk/Hawk 75/P-36 aircraft, which look very similar but aren’t, were made in the late 1930s.

Curtiss P-36 in the pre-war USAAF clothes

They saw lots of service in the war from India to Finland (Finnish ace Kyösti Karhila scored 12¼ of his 32¼ victories in the Hawk) and Sumatra to Northern France. Postwar, they flew in Latin America through the 1950s.

One of the very last airworthy H-75s is owned by the Fighter Collection in Duxford. One of some 300 airframes ordered by France before the war, arriving in Europe in 1940. The plane’s squadron later tangled with RAF and USN aircraft over Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in 1942 and survived to tell the tale, later being recovered in storage in 1995.

It flies today with Armée de l’Air standard three-tone scheme, with her Groupe de Combat 11/5 markings on her port, and the Lafayette Escadrille Sioux Indian head motif.

Textron is now the largest Mirage F1 operator in the world

Former Armée de l’Air Dassault Mirage F1s could be a familiar sight over U.S. skies near aggressor bases

As noted by Flight Global, Textron subsidiary Airborne Tactical Advantage Company just picked up 63 former French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) Mirage F1B, F1CT, and F1CR for dissimilar air combat training and aggressor squadron purposes for the U.S. Air Force. The deal included 150 engines and a host of other gear the French weren’t using anymore.

“Textron is planning to retrofit the F1s with modern avionics systems such as digital radio frequency memory jamming capabilities and upgraded radars,” ATAC chief executive Jeffrey Parker says. “The requirements we’re seeing the air force describe clearly include a modern radar such as AESA or a highly capable mechanically scanned array radar.”

A tip-top dual purpose strike fighter when introduced in 1973, over 720 F1s were fielded with the French using the lion share (246) and the Ecuadorian, Greek, Iraqi (the Exocet attack on the USS Stark), Libyan, Moroccan, South African, and Spanish getting smaller quantities, though almost all have retired them.

The French disbanded the last squadron flying the F1 in 2014 and today only Gabon flies a few surplus Armée de l’Air jets, and the Libyans have a handful the French are upgrading while the Iranians are thought to have about a dozen operational F1BQs and F1EQs that escaped Desert Storm by skipping over the border in 1991.